Just for fun, let’s talk about another member of my family for a change. How about . . . oh. . . um . . . my mother?
My mother, Virginia Wells Sullivan. We call her Ginger, ’cause she hates to be called “Mom.” According to her, just hearing the word “mom” ages a woman twenty years. And it’s not very chic. So Ginger it is.
Ginger’s got plenty of secrets I could spill—just as one example, did you know she uses a face cream with rabbit pee in it to keep her skin smooth?
Here’s a typical Ginger day:
7:30 AM: Lift sleep mask and crack one eye open to make sure Miss Maura has Daddy-o and kids ready for school and work. Confirm that all is under control. Go back to sleep.
10:00 AM: Wake up to find Miss Maura delivering coffee, toast, grapefruit, and the paper in bed. But no time to dillydally! Must shower and get ready to meet Casey Stewart at Petit Louis for lunch.
12:30 PM: Lunch and gossip with Casey, followed by shopping at Cross Keys or Nordstrom or hair/nails/spa/dermatologist appointment.
3:00 PM (if Wednesday): Annoying interruption of a perfectly pleasant day for therapy with Dr. Melanie Viorst. Talk about how disappointing the children are. No matter how much one tries to teach them properly, they continue to speak as if raised in a trailer park. They use the most hateful words—“heinie,” “wiener,” “booger,” and so on—just to upset their mother. Ask Dr. Viorst to please stop probing into why those words are so upsetting. Can’t she see it’s a simple matter of taste? Speaking of taste, revisit fear of mayonnaise—it’s a disgusting concoction, what on earth IS mayonnaise anyway?—and how impossible it is to avoid mayonnaise in one’s daily life when one is surrounded by WASPs and extremely WASPy Catholics. Mayonnaise is in EVERYTHING, you can’t get away from it, it is so nauseating. . . . How does Dr. Viorst think one stays so reed thin? If one doesn’t eat mayonnaise, one can hardly eat anything at all.
Weep decorously so Dr. Viorst can see that in spite of all appearances to the contrary, you hurt deeply inside.
4:30 PM: Home. Have a quick cocktail while greeting children and asking how school was. Whatever the children say (even if it’s “I just got suspended for blasphemy”), answer, “Marvelous!”
6:00 PM: Daddy-o home from work. More cocktails and dressing for dinner.
7:30 PM: Out for the evening.
As you can imagine, discussing this frivolous life in therapy and CRYING over it could drive a psychiatrist to drink. Or worse.
One Wednesday, Ginger appeared at the North Baltimore Professional Center promptly at 3:00 for her regular appointment with Dr. Viorst. She sat in the waiting room and opened the New Yorker. She stared at the closed door of Dr. Viorst’s office. Dr. Viorst did not appear. This was odd.
After half an hour, Ginger knocked on the office door. No response. She tried to open it. It was locked. Ginger shrugged and went home.
That evening Ginger got a call from someone she didn’t know, saying that Dr. Viorst would no longer be seeing her. When Ginger asked why, the caller explained that Dr. Viorst had killed herself. “How dreadful,” Ginger said to the caller.
Ginger hung up the phone and announced to her family, who were all seated together at dinner, that she always knew Dr. Viorst was crazy—even crazier than Ginger was—and what a relief not to have to try to think up problems to tell her therapist and cry over every week. Now that Wednesdays at 3:00 were free, she thought she might take up tennis again.
Oh, Ginger. Don’t ever change.
P.S. Does anybody know how to get ink off your skin? I’ve tried everything.